Have you ever landed on a website only to see something like this?
“404 error, page not found.”
How did you feel?
If you were visiting that website for the first time, I’m sure that experience did not give you a good impression. This, among other reasons, is why “redirects” are important.
Read along to know what redirects are, how they help your website visitors and save the reputation of your business.
Table of Contents
What are Website Redirects?
Redirects are commands that take users or search engines from one location (the one they requested) to another (the one the website owner wants them to see).
All the pages on a website are like different locations on a street. Each page has its unique address called URL (uniform resource locator). When you visit a page, it leads you to a unique location as directed by the URL.
Once a URL has been created to house a page, it stays on the internet whether or not the page it holds is removed. So you can still visit that URL, only to find out that there’s nothing on it.
What redirects do is to automatically move visitors from one particular URL to another seamlessly. A popular example is the transition of Twitter to X.
Elon Musk bought Twitter and rebranded it to X. If you type “x.com” in your browser, you’ll notice that it redirects you to “twitter.com.”
Why are Redirects Important?
As a business owner, giving your customers and website visitors an enjoyable experience is non-negotiable. Likewise, optimizing your website for search engines to rank high and attract more visitors is something you must do if you want to beat your competitors.
Using redirects on your business website gives your visitors a good user experience. They are easily taken from empty web pages to the ones that give them value. This gives off a good impression.
Furthermore, redirects on your business website aid your SEO by fixing broken links, and duplicate content or removing search engines, e.g. Google, hate duplicate content, empty webpages and broken links. If you have too many of these, it will impact your SEO negatively.
Lastly, using redirects on your business website shows professionalism and adds credibility to your business. Users and search engines don’t trust websites with many broken links, copy-and-paste content and empty web pages.
7 Major Uses of Redirects
Changing the URL of a webpage
As I said earlier, every web page on a website is like a different location on a street. When you create a page, you’re also creating a unique location which will be identified by the URL.
It’s like you renting a shop on block 1 of a street. If you move your shop to block 7, block 1 will still exist. Now, if you don’t add a command to tell people who visit block 1 that you’re now in block 7, those people will meet an empty shop.
Changing your URL is like moving to another location. If people already know the old location, then you need to add a sign or command which is the redirect. This will lead them to your current location.
Therefore, you must redirect the old URL to the new one. This isn’t only for users but search engines too, since they must have seen your old location before anyone else.
Deleting a page is what usually brings the “404 error, page not found” message. To avoid this, you either create a new page and redirect the URL of the deleted page to it. Or you redirect the URL of the deleted page to a page on your website that has similar content.
Merging duplicate content
For some reason, you could have web pages that offer the same or very similar content. Google doesn’t like that and could rank the one not performing well or even not rank any of them.
To prevent this from negatively impacting your SEO, it’s best to use redirects for all duplicate content on your business website, pointing users and search engines to the most comprehensive pages.
Keeping a web page under maintenance
At some point, you might want to change something significant on a webpage. Perhaps the design, the layout, some functionality, etc. Whatever the reason, you wouldn’t want visitors to see a disorganized web page.
Hence, you should temporarily redirect them to a page that serves their needs or at least informs them of the maintenance.
Moving a website to a new domain
Perhaps you’re rebranding, changing the name of your company, or you’ve seen a new and better domain name. Whenever you decide to move to a new domain, you should set up redirects on your business website.
Remember the example I gave with “x.com” redirecting to “twitter.com.” You can also redirect your old domain name to the new one you acquired.
Adding a different category tag that affects URLs
This is especially important for business websites with a blog. It is common to have different categories that represent the topics your business talks about. Over time, the category tags create their web page that shows all the posts with that tag.
If you add a new tag or perhaps change a tag, you might be creating new URLs. It’s wise to look out for them and redirect any duplicates or empty pages appropriately.
Are you a business owner looking to make your business stand out among competitors? We’ve got back! Sponsor your business with Insight.ng today.
Moving from HTTP to HTTPS
HTTPS is a signal that shows users your website is secure. Some browsers offer warnings to users when they try to visit websites that use HTTP instead of HTTPS. Ensure you set up a redirect on your business website that takes users to the HTTPS version.
2 Main Types of Redirects on Websites
This can get technical, but as a business website, you only need to know that there are broadly 2 types of redirects. They include:
The name says it all. They are used when you have no plans of going back to the old URL. 301 redirect is the most popular and is what Google advises website owners to use.
Whatever ranking power the old URL has will be passed across to the new URL you’re redirecting to. Setting up a 301 redirect isn’t so hard, especially if you use no-code website builders like WordPress.
If you intend to redirect users for only a short period, then this is your go-to. Perhaps you’re performing maintenance, testing some ideas, or running an ad campaign. 302 redirect is the best option for temporary redirects.
There are other options for permanent and temporary redirects respectively, but Google doesn’t recommend them and advises website owners to only use them as a last resort when they fail to use 301 or 302.
You can do your research using the Google advanced search to figure out other types of redirects.
What to Avoid When Using Redirects on Business Websites
Ideally, one shouldn’t use redirects at all. But we don’t live in an ideal world. Things change. There are several trends on Google. Your strategies will change because the world is dynamic.
Redirects help tackle the ever-changing nature of the internet. But you must avoid the following while using website redirects:
This is linking multiple redirects such that A > B > C. Url A redirects to URL B and URL B redirects to URL C. This is a bad practice. It makes your website slow, puts users off and reduces the ranking power of the page. Hence, ensure you determine which URL is the most important and redirect all other URLs to it.
Url A redirects to B and B redirects back to A. This causes an endless loop of redirects. Imagine how poor an experience that would be both for your users and search engines.
Redirecting to unrelated pages
Say you deleted a page. Now you have a URL showing users the dreaded “404 error, page not found.” On redirecting that URL, don’t send it to a page that has something unrelated to what the original (old) URL has.
How would you feel if you research using Google voice search, the topic “top 10 marketing agencies in my area” and clicked on a link only to land on a page talking about “pet food?” That’ll be upsetting.
Subscribe to our newsletter. Don’t miss out on our latest insights.
As a business website owner, giving your users a great experience while optimizing your website for search engines is a must. Redirects are one of the key tools to help you achieve that. It shows professionalism, builds credibility and ensures your visitors get the most relevant page at every point in time.
Edited by Priscilla Ajayi.
Tari is an SEO Specialist and Content Writer. A final year medical student with interest in health technology.
When inspired by the universe he writes as Iraet to awaken the consciousness of men and heighten their self-awareness.
- Business InsightsSeptember 9, 2023Redirects on Business Websites: Types, Importance and Uses
- CampusAugust 21, 202325 Intriguing Facts You Should Know About Niger Delta University (NDU)
- Business InsightsAugust 1, 2023Competitor Analysis: A Full Guide for Business Owners
- TechnologyJuly 12, 2023A Full Guide to Google Advanced Search: Why to Use it and How to Use it